Busch Stadium - St Louis Cardinals
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.29
Busch Stadium 700 Clark St St Louis, MO 63102
Year Opened: 2006 Capacity: 50,345
Busch Stadium, One Good Time
The Cardinals hold a special place in the heart of pure baseball fans of a certain age. At one point, they were the westernmost team, and the influence of behemoth radio station KMOX to spread the word of Cardinal Nation cannot be overstated. Still, time moves on, and the Cardinals remain one of the most popular franchises in baseball. Their current ballpark (the 3rd to carry the Busch Stadium name), opened 15 years ago and is set beautifully within the city. Most prominent in the skyline views is St Louis Arch – one of America’s most iconic landmarks.
While this review was conducted early in the 2021 season, when attendance was limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s still energy to this place on game day… While most of downtown was eerily quiet during the day, as the game approached, people did finally emerge and breathed fresh life into the surrounding area.
Food & Beverage 3
The choices available are kind of pedestrian by today’s standards, but many stands were shut down due to the limited attendance. Nachos seem to be a popular choice, but I would definitely recommend looking for the El Birdo premium nacho stands, as opposed to those served in the main concession areas. El Birdo nachos can be customized with onions, olives, sour cream, and hot peppers. Adding beef or pork on top takes these from a hefty $12.25 to a $17.75 behemoth.
For most premium foods, check out the areas around sections 130-148, which include the Carvery and the Gashouse Grill. Section 147 features a kiosk for Kohn’s, serving kosher-style fares like knockwurst, knishes, and a corned beef sandwich.
What you won’t be disappointed in is the beer selection, which shouldn’t be a surprise. Of course, the Busch/Budweiser staples are omnipresent, but there are bars throughout with a wide selection of IPA’s, craft brews, and hard seltzers available.
St Louis fans are some of the best in baseball, and the atmosphere really starts outside the park. We saw Cardinals fans having a catch with Phillies (the visiting team) fans. People politely took turns getting a photograph with a giant Cardinals logo. In general, people are kind, friendly, helpful, and respectful. Everything you could want in that “midwestern friendliness” vibe was fully on display.
Even at 25% capacity, the crowd was capable of raising the energy level with the smallest signs of life from their Redbirds.
The prime area to consider as the neighborhood is the Ballpark Village area, along the left field line. There’s a series of bars and restaurants, as well as open green space to hang out. Additionally, there are concession stands and souvenir shops that line the area. Statues of Cardinals greats line the pavilion beyond the main gate. The Cardinals Nation bar is St Louis’ answer to the Wrigley rooftops, offering fans an entertainment venue with a view from 500 feet away.
Beyond the direct neighborhood, St Louis is eminently walkable. Spend time at the Gateway Arch (14th Street & the Mississippi River), and walk the number of public parks and sculpture gardens that line 14th Street. At 18th and Market, there’s a revitalized entertainment district at Union Station, that includes shops, restaurants, and the St Louis Aquarium. You can then walk back on Clark Street, directly to the ballpark.
Cardinals fans have long been known as some of the most loyal and intelligent baseball fans. People are definitely here to see the game, and there’s not a lot of emphasis on non-baseball activity. The stands are a see of jerseys and player t-shirts spanning multiple generations of players.
Folks here know their baseball, and they are highly engaged in the game. They cheer at the right time, they know when a player has made “productive outs,” and they keep the energy up for all 9 innings.
The ballpark sits basically at the intersection of two interstates (I-64 & I-44), so it’s definitely car friendly, and there are several parking lots around the stadium area. Ideally, though, it makes sense to drop your car elsewhere and take the Metrolink train to the Stadium Station. There are more than 20 free Park & Ride lots along the train line. There are also bus and trolley options.
Return on Investment 3
Attending a major league game is an expensive proposition these days, pretty much anywhere you go. If you’re looking for a pure baseball environment, the Cardinals are definitely worth attending. The Club seats represent a nice balance between price and location – as well as a way to get some relief from the midsummer heat – especially if you can find some discounted seats on the secondary market. Better to spend some of your dining or souvenir dollars outside the park, however, and keep to a dog and a beer while you’re inside.
The Ballpark Village area and the Gateway Arch really define the extras. If you take the tour to the top of the arch, you can get a great aerial view of the stadium. This stadium experience is best when considered in its purity of a baseball experience. For $20 you can take a stadium tour which includes access to the Cardinals Hall of Fame and Museum.
The statues out front are really detailed and create a good photo opportunity while you wait for others in your group. Ted Simmons is the most recent player to receive a statue, but Cardinals greats like Dizzy Dean, Lou Brock, Ozzie Smith, and Bob Gibson are also immortalized.
About 6 miles west of the ballpark is Forest Park, with an art museum, golf and tennis center, and boat rentals. Nearby you’ll also find The Hill and Italian American neighborhood with some of the best Italian food in the country.
Busch Stadium offers enough history, class, and views to make it an ideal baseball destination. The ballpark is a favorite among many ballpark enthusiasts and is considered home to many Cardinals fans during the season. Does it have to stand out among the copious “retro-classic” facilities built in the past 25 years? Perhaps, Busch doesn’t necessarily need to be anything more than what it is, a nice spot for baseball.